09.03.2017 - UNESCO Office in Santiago

IDB and UNESCO: It is urgent to address deficiencies in school infrastructure to promote education quality in Latin America and the Caribbean

Children in their new school building in Santiago, Chile. Photo: UNESCO

A significant number of the region’s students, especially those from lower income families and located in rural areas, do not have ensured access to schools with basic infrastructure resources.

A recent study released on March 9, 2017 by the Education Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean carried out a comparative analysis of the relation between the state of school infrastructure in the region and learning among students from 15 countries.

The research involves a comparison of students’ results in the assessments of the Third Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (TERCE) and school infrastructure characteristics and it revolved around the concepts of sufficiency, equity, and effectiveness. The TERCE study was carried out by the Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE), which is coordinated by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The study concludes that only one in four students in basic education in the region attend an educational center with sufficient school infrastructure. Sufficiency is a concept related to access to six infrastructure categories: water and sanitation; connection to services; educational or academic spaces; offices areas; multipurpose rooms, and classroom equipment. In contrast, almost one third of the students in basic education attend schools with only two or less categories that met sufficiency levels of school infrastructure.

Similarly, the analysis reveals significant inequalities in access to the different categories of school infrastructure, both in terms of students’ socioeconomic status and the geographic location of schools. In general, lower income students from countries that participated in TERCE attend schools with infrastructure in poor conditions.

The study also confirms that most of the school infrastructure categories are positively and significantly associated with the students’ learning achievements. Although the situation is slightly different in each country, pedagogical and educational spaces (other than classrooms), followed by connection to services and the presence of multipurpose classrooms, are the infrastructure categories that are most often associated with higher learning achievements.

This joint research by the IDB and UNESCO highlights that the challenges for countries in the region lie not only in the provision of school infrastructure, but also in ensuring that these facilities truly become spaces and environments that promote a quality education.


Thematic working paper: Sufficiency, equity and effectiveness of school infrastructure in Latin America according to TERCE (pdf, 1.7 Mb)

About UNESCO's work on learning assessment:
The Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE), coordinated by the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago), works to address the new challenges that must be faced to achieve the 2030 Education Agenda. The Laboratory carries out research, encourages technical debates and develops initiatives that contribute to a better understanding on the quality of education and evaluation, and their impact on the design of public policy. Further information

About the IDB
The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

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